LIBRARY U. OF I. URBANA-CHAMPA1GN fLLN The Significance of the Transylvania Company in American History By Archibald Henderson President The Transylvanians <& Delivered at the Transylvania Memorial Celebration, Boonesborough, Kentucky, October 12, 1935. L Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2012 with funding from University of Illinois UrbaRa-Charnpaign * ■ - ■ * .. http://archive.org/details/significanceoftrOOhend The Significance of the Transylvania Company in American History By Archibald Henderson, Ph.D., Litt.D., D.C.L., LL.D. President The Transylvanians & Author The Conquest of the Old Southwest, The Star of Empire, Washington's Southern Tour, The Creative Forces in Westward Expansion, The Transylvania Company and the Founding of Henderson, Ken- tucky, Isaac Shelby, etc., etc. as 535 •fs THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TRANSYLVANIA COMPANY IN AMERICAN HISTORY Clio, the muse of history, is cryptic and impassive. She seeks not to justify herself, but calmly and patiently awaits the gradual disclosure of truth through the exhaustive research of the historical investigator. In the case of the activities of the Transylvania Company, the events we celebrate today have had to wait one hundred and sixty years for just and adequate commemoration at the hands of posterity. The far-flung activities of this great corporation are evidenced in the participation in these exercises today of the representatives of four great states, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, and of the aboriginal inhab- itants of our soil, the red men known as the American Indian. We welcome this day, the culmination of objective research, when we can all unite with fair minds and full hearts in paying honor to one of the prime creative and constructive forces in the opening of the West to the white man's civilization during the second half of the eighteenth century. Today the proprietors of the Transylvania Company, conspicuous rep- resentatives of the first families of Virginia, North Carolina and Scotland, move upon the stage of the world's theater, into the spotlight of history. Today the world of our fancy is peopled again with the mighty figures of an heroic age: jurists and statemakers, hunters, and pioneers, way-breakers and Indian fighters, colonizers and commonwealth builders. These men whom we honor today struck a mighty blow for the advance of the white man's civilization. They were the crest and foremost fringe of that mobile wave which welled up from the fountain source of American liberty, the North Carolina of Mecklenburg and Halifax, the Virginia of Richmond and Wil- liamsburg, the region of the later Revolutionary glory of Guilford Court- house, King's Mountain and Yorktown. They swept irresistibly through the "high-swung gateway" of the Cumberland, peopled a bloody ground, marred by internecine aboriginal strife, at the risk of their lives and for- tunes, and held this fair region of lovely levels, this Great Meadow, inviolate within the circle of its protective wall until Kentucky had weathered the storms of border warfare and at last entered triumphantly into a union of free and independent states. Perhaps the very flowers bloom here with brighter luster for the blood they shed here. I sometimes think that never blows so red The rose as where some buried Caesar bled. Within the framework of unimpeachable historic evidence, let us seek today in realistic spirit the truth concerning the pioneer beginnings of Kentucky. In the antiquated and out-of-date histories of this region, from Filson to Collins, precious and indispensable as they are, are embalmed innumerable errors of fact and interpretation which the exhaustive labors of contemporary historians have in part corrected and are still engaged in correcting. None of these distortions of the truth is so persistent and incorrigible, in the face of incontrovertible evidence, as the claim that the nomadic pioneers, of whom the justly famous Daniel Boone is the type- figure, were the prime founders and sole begetters of Kentucky. Boone THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON October Ik, 1935 TO THE TRA1ISYLVANIANS: I desire to extend to the Transyivanians and to the members of other patriotic societies gathered with you today my heartiest congratulations upon this occasion. You are assembled to do honor to that memorable group of men who founded Transyivania; men of divers gifts and varied genius — Henderson, Williams, the Harts, Hogg, Johnaton, Bullock, and' Luttrell, and to that great axeman, Daniel Boone, and! his as- sociates. To these men who tlsze 1 the "Transylvania Trail" and who held the "Transylvania Fort", we are indebted beyond measure, not only for the nurture of democracy in transmontane America, but for the holding of it safe during the long struggle for liberty on the seaboard. A3 I return from a Journey to that farther West, made possible only by the efforts and sacrifices of men of like character, I appreciate the more vividly the magnitude of the task accomplished by your fat.'iers. In these com- memorative exercises you pay homage to ail American pioneers, both of that time and of the present; for it is the "pioneer spirit" whicn you in fact honor. Those men "blazed the trail" and "held the fort". I know of no better motto for today than this which the Transyivanians have handed down to us. -/z~f*j/£L^t himself, with the devout assistance of Filson, widely disseminated the extravagantly expressed claim that the history of the Western country had been "his" history, and voiced the pious faith that "an overruling Provi- dence seems to have watched over his life, and preserved him to be the humble instrument in settling one of the fairest portions of the new world." In his appeal to the Kentucky legislature in 1812, the world-famous path- finder and Indian fighter, the living witness of his own immortality, goes even further and, under delusions of grandeur, naively says that he "may claim, without arrogance, to have been the author of the principal means which contributed to the settlement of a country on the Mississippi and its waters, which now produces the happiness of a million of his fellow- creatures and of the exploring and acquisition of a country that will make happy many millions in time to come." 1 Surely no more "arrogant" claim has ever been put forward in the entire course of American history. One notes with amusement that in his narra- tive, drafted by the turgid Filson, the self-centered Boone mentions neither the Transylvania Company nor any of its nine partners by name, with one incidental exception; and casually neglects any reference to the Legis- lature of Transylvania which made history here on May 23-27, 1775! A larger horizon, an objective realism, and a clearer conception of historic causation enable us to correct the self-deluding fantasies of the ancient and worthy pioneer. Today we realize that the truly constructive forces in the opening of the West were not only "long hunters" of wild game, roving bands of lawless squatters, and reckless contestants for place with the red men, but also captains of industry, exponents of big business, investors on a grand scale in furs and goods and lands. In a George Washington, a Patrick Henry, an Andrew Lewis and a Thomas Walker of Virginia, a George Morgan, a George Croghan and a Samuel Wharton of Pennsylvania, a James Hogg and a William Johnston of Scotland, a Richard Henderson and a John Williams of North Carolina, we discern the type of men who engineer and direct the tidal movements of population and capital, in order to open up, at one mighty, decisive stroke, vast areas, rich mineral deposits, immense natural resources. In Washington, the great land speculator, Jefferson of the Louisiana purchase, Astor of Astoria fame, Polk of the Mexican war, Roosevelt of the Panama canal, James J. Hill, the railroad baron: we recognize the typical genius of America, the promoter and expansionist on the grand scale. l ( -iih Archibald Henderson: The Creative Forces in Westward Expansion, J ': A , October, 1914. It is incontestable that Boone himself was modest regarding achievements. The extravagant, even "arrogant" claims attributed to him were, in the opinion, actually advanced by devoted enthusiasts, self-interested historians and hers, and loyal friends who drafted amazingly egoistic petitions, wholly out of char- acter as to Boone, to which were attached the signature of the constitutionally modest pioneer, "autobiography," drafted by Filson, was a work invaluable to histor} foi il collection and Incidents; but many important features oi Boone's career were slurred over or omitted. Gilbert Imlay, traveler and historian, promoted Filson' "build-up" of Boone's fame, doubtless in attempted partial payment, through propaj his debt to Boone for ten ■ land, not a penny oi the price of which he ever paid. Judge John I and other admirers of Boone, who di to the Kentucky Legislature and to - on his behalf, with characteristically Southern exaggeration and oratorical style, made ^ the neglected old pioneer which the truly n B one, if left to himself, would never have drean Ivancing. However, these claims were made doubtless with Boone's assent and over his own signature, although drafted by otl Indeed, we shall create a distorted perspective of our history unless we take account of these two mutually complementary impulses which gave character and significance to the progressive American civilization of the eighteenth century. The less important, but most frequently glorified, of these two determinative impulses of pioneer civilization was the passion- ately inquisitive instinct of the hunter, the traveler, the explorer. These nomadic wanderers, these restless hunters in the twilight zone of the uncharted West, taking their lives in their hands, fared boldly forth to a fabled hunter's paradise in the far-away wilderness, because they were driven by the irresistible urge of a Ponce de Leon, a De Soto, and a Balboa, to discover the truth about the unknown lands and seas beyond. The indi- gent hunters and lawless squatters, fleeing the dread incidence of taxation at home, fondly imagined that, despite royal proclamations, colonial treaties, and solemnly marked dividing lines, a tomahawk blaze on a tree, the laying of a pen of logs, the planting of some fruit trees or a few rows of corn gave them a pre-emptive right to any trans-Allegheny tract of land in America. A deeper, a more primal determinative impulse than this was the acquisi- tive passion of the land-seeker. Here was a vast, unappropriated region in the interior of the continent to be had for the taking, which served as lure and inspiration to the man daring enough to risk his all in its acquisi- tion. The pioneering promoter and colonizer became a powerful constructive force in Westward expansion. Groups of wealthy or well-to-do persons, in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina organized themselves into land companies — Indiana, Illinois, Wabash, Vandalia, Ohio, Transylvania, Loyal, Greenbrier — for the establishment of colonies and speculation in Western lands. Whether acting under the authority of crown grants or daringly proceeding on their own initiative, the land companies gave stability and permanence to settlements otherwise hazardous and insecure. Indeed, some present day historians of eminence choose to ignore or dis- regard Boone's claim to be the "principal instrument in the opening of the West. 2 The attempt has even been made to discredit America's most gla- morous story of pioneering adventure, by relegating it to the domain of legend. 3 In one of the most brilliant historical works ever penned by an American, the late Dr. Clarence Walworth Alvord says: 2 The citation of several conspicuous examples will suffice here. In his "The War of Independence," (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1929), one of the leading authorities on the American Revolution, the late Professor Claude H. Van Tyne of the University of Michigan, omits the name of Boone. In their standard work, "The Growth of the American Republic" (Oxford University Press, 1930), Professor Samuel Eliot Morison of Harvard University and Professor Henry Steele Commager of New York University make no mention of Boone. In his masterly work in two volumes, "The Mississippi Valley in British Politics" (Arthur H. Clark Co., 1917), the late Professor Clarence Walworth Alvord of the University of Illinois, in speaking of Richard Henderson, says: "His agent in exploring the region of Kentucky was the well known pioneer and hunter Daniel Boone, whom fickle tradition has chosen to apotheosize as the prototype of western state makers of all generations." 3 Two essays by the late Clarence W. Alvord present this view: Daniel Boone, American Mercury, vol. viii, No. 31 (July, 1926); and The Daniel Boone Myth, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, vol xix, Nos. 1 and 2 (April-July, 1926). The former article opens with the words: "Few names are dearer to Americans than that of Daniel Boone; his memory has become a national inheritance, a tradition as sacred to the people of the West as that touching the Revolutionary Fathers. Unfortunately, scientific research offers no support for his fame, which is a myth, like that of William Tell, conceived in caprice, reared by uncritical history, and perpetuated by popular sentimentality." 6 In the unbroken wilderness across the mountain, the speculators were in advance of the actual home-maker. The historic muse has always delighted in singing of the daring deeds of the explorer wandering through the dark forest or paddling his canoe on unknown rivers; and even the homesteader, with family goods packed in his prairie schooner, has had his exploits chanted in majestic measures; but few have noted the fact that both explorer and homesteader were frequently only the advance agents of the speculator who dreamed of large enterprises in land, exploitation — that the Daniel Boones of the wilderness were only the pawns of some Richard Henderson. From that distant date when Joliet and La Salle first found their way into the heart of the great West, up to the present day when far-off Alaska is in the throes of development, "big business" has been engaged in western speculation. The Mississippi valley has been explored, cleared and settled in large measure through the enterprise and financial boldness of moneyed men who have staked fortunes in opening up the successive lines of the American frontier. 4 The views of those historians who would deprive Boone of his rightful meed of praise and relegate the romantic story of his dramatic career to the limbo of legend and myth, I neither share nor support. Boone, as type- figure of hundreds of men of similar careers and accomplishments, must be accorded his just due, but no more, for the important part he played in the opening and winning of the West. Other forces, less romantic in appeal, but more permanent in their effects, were likewise concerned in the great work of conquering the wilderness. ■> In the clearer light of objec- tive study and unprejudiced research, we discern that there were two main 4 The Mississippi Valley in British Politics, i, 85-6. 5 At various times the writer has, both publicly and privately, combatted the effort to rob Boone of his just due. Following the appearance in 1926 of Professor Alvord's two articles, cited above, the author personally wrote him in vigorous remonstrance. In a series of syndi- cated articles by the writer, one bore the title "Daniel Boone, the Trail Blazer," with sub-title supplied by the newspaper headliner: "Doctor Henderson condemns attempts of some moderns to bt-little Boone's well-earned fame. Answers recent attack of Professor Clarence Alvord in American, Mercury." In that article, which appeared on February 19, 1928, in the Raleigh News and Observer, Greensboro Daily News, Charlotte Observer, Durham Morning Herald, Winston- Salem Journal, Asheville Citizen, and other newspapers, the writer said: "Although there is an effort on foot today to depreciate and minimize our greatest American heroes, and Boone has recently been the subject of attack in the American Mercury by Professor Clarence W. Alvord, there is no likelihood that Boone's fame will be seriously impaired." In an article, "A New Daniel Boone Emerges from Myth," in the New York Times, Magazine Section, September 4, 1 ( }2~, the writer quotes the following words of Alvord: "Clio has often heard our historians sing of the deeds of the stalwart pioneers with guns and axes following buffalo traces into the West; she has been obliged to listen to the hymns of the squatter with family and household goods in his Conestoga wagon trekking across the prairies; but less frequently has there reached her ears the epic of big business whose devotees have been present at the opening up of every new territory and whose pervading and powerful influence has been experienced as wilderness gave way to frontier and frontier to civilized settlement." Upon this, the writer then comments; As with Lincoln, Boone's place in the popular heart is too secure to be shaken by the vagaries of the historian. The ruthless iconoclast, demanding justice for the real leaders oi the Westward movement, might just as well save his breath. The popular heart was never known to follow the dictates oi mere reason. The author quoted above argues in vain in challenging "the naive symbolism of the Daniel Boone myth": "The unlearned who love concrete symbolism will continue, no doubt, to constructive instrumentalities in the opening of the trans-Allegheny region: corporate enterprise in the Transylvania Company, and individual initiative in the bands of roving hunters, squatters, and pioneers, of whom Boone was type-figure. These forces proved mutually co-operative and comple- mentary. Each was indispensable to the other. The land company organized in North Carolina in the early seventeen sixties, under the title of Richard Henderson and Company, began its operations by engaging an expert hunter to make a reconnaissance of the vast terra incognita of the West. Their inevitable choice was Daniel Boone, well known to all three members of the company, two of whom were practising lawyers in the Rowan County and Superior courts which met at Salisbury, my native town, where Daniel's father, Squire, often presided as one of the "worshipful justices." 6 It is one of the singular idiosyncrasies of localism that no Kentucky historian, so far as I am aware, mentions the early explorations of Tennessee, made for Richard Henderson and Company, by Boone, Callaway, and Scaggs. The Tennessee historians, Haywood, Ramsey and Putnam, fully informed as to historical events in their own state, give explicit accounts of these explorations commissioned by the land company — as do many other writers. Boone and Callaway explored the lands east of the mountains; but in 1763 Scaggs passed through Cumberland Gap and in 1765 penetrated to the very heart of Tennessee, fixing his station at the lick afterwards popularly known as Mansker's Lick." The three partners of Richard Henderson and Company, preoccupied by official business and the rapidly developing Regulator revolt, were slow in taking action upon the reports of the Tennessee lands made to them by Boone, Callaway and Scaggs. The matter was finally brought to a head when in the Virginia Gazette of December 1, 1768, they read the astounding news that "the Six Nations and all their tributaries have granted a vast extent of country to his majesty, and the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania, and settled an advantageous boundary line between their hunting country and this, and the other colonies to the Southward as far as the Cherokee cherish the name of the simple soul who exemplifies so fully their ideas of historical causation and typifies so fittingly their conception of the common man in history. That they will continue to repeat the story of Daniel Boone need not disturb the public's ignorance of the past; yet it may be regretted that in choosing a western hero, caprice had not hit upon a figure nearer the centre of the moving forces. Frontiersmen like Boone were romantic, but so were those who had the vision of empire builders. Why did the people select a fictitious Aaron for honor, when in Morgan, Henderson, Walker and others they might have paid homage to a would-be Moses." The writer who, during the past thirty-odd years, has delivered addresses and written essays almost without number on Daniel Boone, owns what is believed to be the largest collection of Booneana in private hands extant. On the eve of this very celebration the writer delivered a glowing and extended tribute to Boone before the Madison County Historical Society, Rich- mond, Ky., October 11, 1936. It has long been the writer's intention to prepare an adequate and reliable biography of Boone, since none now exists. Everyone interested in Daniel Boone is requested to communicate with the writer, at Chapel Hill, N. C, in particular to convey information regarding any new, unpublished materials about Boone. 6 Consult Archibald Henderson, The Star of Empire (Durham, N. C, 1919) and The Conquest of the Old Southwest (New York, 1920). 7 Consult Archibald Henderson, North Carolina and Kentucky: A Study in Origins, Register Kentucky State Historical Society, January, 1928. 10 River, for which they received the most valuable present in goods and dollars that was ever given at any conference since the settlement of America." 8 This news was deeply resented by the Cherokee tribe, since the land south of the Ohio river and east of the Kentucky was territory which they had claimed from time immemorial. Col. John Stuart, Superintendent for Indian affairs in the Southern Department, who for several years had been busily acting for the crown in establishing a western boundary between the whites and the Indians, vigorously protested to Sir William Johnson, Superintendent for Indian Affairs in the Northern Department, who had negotiated the treaty of Fort Stanwix, against this sale by the Six Nations of land which he, Stuart, as agent of the crown, had already acknowledged in solemn treaty to be the property of the Cherokee. From this time, it is surmised, dates the openly expressed desire of the Cherokee to sell their title to the trans-Allegheny lands of Tennessee and Kentucky to which they laid claim. Boone had long since heard of the great Ouasioto or Cumberland Gap from Scaggs and the Tennessee long hunters, and from his neighbor on the upper Yadkin, Christopher Gist, who had explored Kentucky for the Ohio company in 1751. But Boone himself had never passed through the lofty gap, and was eager to enter upon the great adventure. At this crucial moment the horse peddler, John Findlay, Boone's old friend of the Braddock campaign, wandered into the valley of the Yadkin and visited Boone at his home on Dutchman's Creek. The moment was propitious; for Richard Henderson and Company had long waited for Boone to make a reconnaissance and survey of the Kentucky trans-Allegheny. At this time Boone was heavily in debt to his attorneys, Henderson and Williams, both of them members of the land company, for legal services; and to other prominent citizens of Salisbury. The testimony, from North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri — from Hall and Lossing, Putnam and Peck, Martin and Monette, Rose and Roosevelt — is cumulative and overwhelming that the two years' exploration of Kentucky and Tennessee undertaken by the party of six men, headed by Daniel Boone, with John Findlay as their guide, was made on behalf of Richard Henderson and Company. Boone himself states that he visited Kentucky in 1769 "for the purpose of examining the country" and "to recruit his shattered circumstances"; but he was under pledge to Judge Henderson to keep secret the ulterior motive for the exploration — a pledge the honorable pioneer and explorer never violated. This may explain in part why Boone, in his autobiography, omits to mention that the long survey of Tennessee and Kentucky which he and his companions made in 1769-1771 was commissioned by the North Carolina land company. On his return to North Carolina in 1771, Boone's glowing description of Kentucky in a report to the land company, as stated by an old chronicler, "soon excited in others the spirit of an enterprise which in point of magni- tude and peril, as well as constancy and heroism displayed in its execution, has never been paralleled in the history of America." In 1772 the Watauga settlers, perturbed about the stability of their tenure, obtained from the Cherokee tribe, for a valuable consideration, a 10 years' lease of the lands which they occupied. From James Robertson, a leader in the Watauga settle- ment, Boone now learned that the Cherokee, excited by the example of the 8 For this wKole period consult Archibald Henderson, Conquest ol the Old Southwest (Century Co., N. Y., 1920). 11 great compensation made to the Six Nations at Fort Stanwix, were willing, for a handsome consideration, to sell their title to the trans-Allegheny lands of Tennessee and Kentucky south of the Ohio. At this time Judge Henderson was laboriously occupied with the affairs of the court which did not expire until 1773. The following year, realizing the magnitude of the proposed real estate transaction, he re-organized the land company, known as Richard Henderson and Company, into a larger corporation known as the Louisa Company; and once again, on January 6, 1775, into a new company with nine partners under the name of the Transylvania Company, sometimes freely translated as the "Backwoods Company." 9 This momentous action is the first step in the chain of historic causation which we commemorate today — in a tablet, the patriotic gift of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. The glowing reports of the trans-Allegheny region, brought back by numerous hunters, travelers, and explorers, caused great excitement in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee, and inspired various excursions into Kentucky by exploratory and colonizing parties in 1773 and 1774. A controversial issue obtrudes itself at this point. The Transylvania Company has been denigrated by some of the earlier and a few of the later Kentucky historians as a soulless corporation composed of capitalist land-plungers intent solely upon material gain. In the interest of truth and justice let us recall that this company honorably bought the land of the Cherokee tribe and paid for it on the nail. Present-day historians point out with ironic amusement that the pioneers who attempted to occupy and settle Kentucky in 1773 and 1774 — Boone and his party who suffered a bloody repulse, the McAfees, Harrod and his band from the Monongahela, and others — were unlawfully encroaching upon lands reserved to the Indian tribes by the British crown. For all their bravery and daring, they were in actuality military invaders: free-booters upon the Indian lands, in the correct sense of the word land-grabbers, guilty of armed invasion, illegal entry and unlawful occupancy. They were violating the royal proclamation of 1763, the orders in council of April 7, 1773, or the detailed regulations of the privy council passed on February 3, 1774, and transmitted to the governors of all the southern colonies, all of which imperial orders forbade, in explicit terms, settlement to the west of the boundary line marked out by Col. John Stuart under royal direction and with the co-operation of coionial governments and Indian tribes. 10 Under the new royal policy of 1773, the disposal of western lands, formerly a colonial function, became an imperial prerogative. Had the Transylvania Company not purchased the Cherokee title to the trans-Allegheny territory at the treaty of Sycamore Shoals, in March, 1775, there can be no doubt that the warlike squatters — the Boones, the Bryans, the McAfees, the Harrods, the Logans, the Calks — would have been either forcibly dispossessed by the British government, unless they desired to bid for the land at open auction, at double the former price as a minimum offer, or else driven from the country or more prob- ably exterminated by the fierce bands of Indians of various tribes, chiefly 9 Consult Archibald Henderson, The Transylvania Company and the Founding of Henderson, Kentucky (Louisville, 1929). 10 Consult Archibald Henderson, A Pre-Revolutionary Revolt in the Old Southwest, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, September, 1930. 12 Shawnee and Cherokee, which roamed at will through this twilight zone of the dark and bloody ground. 11 We celebrate today the treaty of Sycamore Shoals. It was, both in mag- nitude and in importance, as judged by beneficent results, the greatest real estate transaction ever negotiated by private individuals with the Indians in American history. Today the entire world stands aghast in consternation and horror over the ruthless, barbaric rape of Ethiopia by a supposedly civilized power, in defiance of the condemnation of the League of Nations and disregard of the enlightened sentiment of mankind. Compare with this the honorable action of the Transylvania Company in their relations with the Cherokee. Had the Transylvania Company so desired, they might have re- cruited a small army of pioneers in North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsyl- vania, and forcibly occupied this fair and coveted region, as Boone, Harrod and other land-grabbers had attempted to do, with cynical disregard of the rights and title of the aboriginal claimants of the soil. On the contrary, Judge Henderson negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee unparalleled in fair- ness and justice in the long and often discreditable history of the relations of the white man with the red. The Transylvania Company paid the Cherokee the same price for the trans-Allegheny region purchased by them which Great Britain had paid the Six Nations for a similar area. They made the purchase on the unofficial advice of Lord Mansfield, the great English jurist, and on the basis of the Camden-Yorke opinion, rendered in 1752, and again in 1763, by two men later to become Lord Chancellors of Great Britain, to the effect that a crown grant was not necessary in order to purchase lands from the Indian tribes whether in East India or in North America. The four states sponsoring this celebration take pride in erecting here a tablet in commemo- ration of the men who negotiated the fair, honorable and epochal purchase known to history as the "Great Treaty." For his unique and unrivaled knowledge of the trans-Allegheny, Boone was, as Frlson puts it, "solicited by a number of North Carolina gentlemen * to attend their treaty, to negotiate with them [the Cherokee Indians] and mention the boundaries of the purchase." Boone was indispensable in arranging the preliminaries of the treaty. But four days before the formal negotiations began, Boone had gone on to the agreed-upon rendezvous at the Long Island of Holston, having been employed by the Transylvania Company, in his own words, "to mark out a road in the best passage from the settlement through the wilderness to Kentucky." The marking out of the Transylvania Trail, sometimes known as the "wilderness road," by thirty axemen headed by Daniel Boone, is a classic performance in early western history. '- Even if this rough highway, a succession of trails loosely linked together, and from Martin's Station onward viable only by pack-horse, was afterwards derided as the worst road on the continent, it successfully served a desperate need, at a crucial hour in American history. As part of a vast program of investment and colonization by the Transylvania Company, this Transyl- UConsult Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America (Williams- burg, 1774), in his collected Writing* (Federal Edition), ii, 85. 12 Archibald Henderson, I). unci Boone and the American Pioneer, Century Magazine, September, 1920; Kent Summer, 1934; ibid, Transylvania Memorial a, Summer, 1935, Archibald Henderson, guest editor. 13 vania Trail, cut out by Boone and the thirty axemen, was an indispensable factor in the project for the occupation of the trans- Allegheny area. All honor to the memory of the valiant pioneers, Boone, Callaway, Stoner, and the other axemen, to the brave Susannah Boone Hays, to the negro man and the negro woman, who braved the perils of the path — immortalized in one of the tablets on this monument, the patriotic gift of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. To an historian and a citizen of another state, one of the most extraordi- nary of "lacunae" in Kentucky history, an omission almost inexplicable, is the failure on the part of her historians to appreciate the statesman-like proceedings of the Legislature of Transylvania which took place here, under the gigantic elm, May 23-27, 1775. Had these proceedings taken place in Virginia or Massachusetts, they would have been heralded to the world as vital enunciations in the advance of civil and religious liberty, democracy, and the human spirit. What paeans of praise, surely not undeserved, have sounded to the world for these sentiments in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason and passed by the Virginia assembly on June 12, 1776: That all power is by God and Nature vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. * * * That all men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience, unpunished and unre- strained by the magistrate, unless, under color of religion, any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or the safety of society. I beg you to note that the president of the Transylvania legislature and the proprietors of Transylvania, in conjunction with a committee of this legislature, by more than twelve months miraculously anticipated George Mason and the Virginia Assembly in the explicit expression of these identical views. In his address to the House of Delegates of Transylvania, on May 24, 1775, Judge Henderson says: If any doubt remain amongst you with respect to the force and efficacy of whatever laws you now, or hereafter make, be pleased to consider that all power is originally in the people; therefore make it their interest, by impartial and beneficial laws, and you may be sure of their inclination to see them enforced. The laws derive force and efficacy from our mutual consent, and that consent results from our virtue, interest, and convenience. In the Declaration of Rights, officially described as the "compact between the proprietors and the people," resolve four of the contract or agreement reads: That there be perfect religious freedom and general toleration; Pro- vided, that the propagators of any doctrine or tenets, evidently tending to the subversion of our laws, shall, for such conduct, be amenable to, and punished by, the civil courts. It is well for Kentuckians to remember with pride that the distinguished historian of the American Revolution, the late Professor Claude H. Van Tyne, said of the presiding officer of this legislature that, from one who, under royal rule, boldly asserted that the source of all political power is the people and that "laws derive force and efficacy from our mutual consent," Western democracy, thus born in the wilderness, was "taking its first politi- 14 cal lesson." For this self-same reason, Benson J. Lossing, seventy-eight years earlier, dubbed Richard Henderson the "political father of Kentucky." It is well for Kentuckians to remember with pride, also, that the Transyl- vania statute of religious liberty anticipated Thomas Jefferson's bill for religious freedom, which he ranked in importance with the Declaration of Independence, by eleven years. Furthermore, it cannot, I venture to suggest, be successfully disputed that, so far as that was possible, within the continental framework of the Ameri- can system, the Legislature of Transylvania took the first bold step toward the establishment of an independent colony. In his address to the Legislature of Transylvania, Judge Henderson declared: We have a right to make * * * laws [for the regulation of our con- duct] without giving offense to Great Britain, or any of the American colonies, without disturbing the repose of any society or community under heaven. From the outset, as contemporary records clearly indicate, the Transyl- vania leaders planned to establish an independent colony. In the spring of 1775 Col. William Preston, Surveyor General of Fincastle County, Virginia, excitedly reported to Washington that Henderson planned to "set up an independent government." Washington, who about that period was declaring that he "abhorred independence," naturally viewed with alarm the mysterious designs of these strange libertarians. By September 25, 1775, when Jefferson, Hancock, Adams, and the other members of the Continental Congress were laboring earnestly for what Jefferson called the "most permanent harmony with Great Britain," the proprietors of Transylvania were earnestly seeking of this very Congress official recognition of their wilderness commonwealth as the fourteenth American colony, which in fact at that moment it actually was. 15 In June, 1775, when Capt. James Jack delivered in Philadelphia a copy of the Mecklenburg resolves, passed at Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 31, making a contingent declaration of independence of Great Britain, he was sent home by the North Carolina delegates, Hooper, Hewes and Caswell, with a message of commendation and an appreciative pat on the back, but the decisive admonition that the proceedings of the Mecklenburg patriots were premature. In the autumn of 1775 the complexion of the Continental Con- gress remained unchanged. When James Hogg, emissary from Transylvania to the Congress, interviewed John and Samuel Adams, he found them averse to recognizing such dangerous republicans, intent upon independence. I quote from the still largely unpublished diary of John Adams, entry of October 25, 1775: Last evening Mr. Hewes, of North Carolina, introduced to my name- sake, Samuel Adams, and me a Mr. Hogg from that colony, a proprietor of Transylvania, a late purchase from the Cherokees upon the Ohio. He is an associate with Henderson, who was lately one of the associate judges of North Carolina, who is president of the convention in Tran- l? Consult Archibald Henderson, Transylvania, in The Century (Quarterly), Autumn, 1929; Transylvania and the Founding of Henderson, Kentucky, Kentucky Progress Magazine, March, 1932; and two monographs, "Richard Henderson and the Occupation of Kentucky," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, vol i, p. 341, and Memorial Celebration- in Honor of the Transyl- vania Company and the Founding of Henderson at Henderson, k'x., October 11, 1929 (Henderson, Ky., 1929). 15 sylvania. The proprietors have no grant from the crown, nor from any colony, are within the limits of Virginia and North Carolina, by their charters, which bound those colonies in the South sea. They are charged with republican notions and Utopian schemes. John Adams, a loyalist in October, 1775, evidently had little tolerance then for the "republican notions" of the Transylvanians. The giory of Transyl- vania is imperishably preserved in Hogg's historic letter to the proprietors, recording the history of his mission, in which he explicitly states that John Adams warned him that, in view of the efforts then making toward recon- ciliation between the colonies and the king, "the taking under our [the Con- tinental Congress'] protection a body of people who have acted in defiance of the king's proclamation will be looked on as a confirmation of that independent spirit with which we are daily reproached." While Transylvania failed of official recognition by North Carolina, Vir- ginia or the Continental Congress as the fourteenth American colony, the company which founded it played a dominant role in establishing permanent white settlement in Kentucky in 1775. The erection of the Transylvania fort, the most powerful stockaded settle- ment in Kentucky, and its successful defense against fierce assault in 1778 — by Richard Callaway, Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Samuel Henderson, and their compeers — was of national significance through the salvation to America of Kentucky and the trans-Allegheny West — and so deserves commemoration in Revolutionary annals along with Lexington and Bunker's Hill, King's Mountain, and Guilford Courthouse. The conquest of the Northwest, by daring frontiersmen under George Rogers Clark, was made possible by the stabilization of white settlement in Kentucky, of which the backbone was the Transylvania Fort at Boones- borough. First of all, the establishment of the mimic republic of Watauga in 1772; second, the negotiation of the "Great Treaty" at Sycamore Shoals by the Transylvania Company, the marking of the Transylvania Trail for this company by Boone and the thirty axemen, and the erection and successful defense of the Transylvania Fort; and third, the meteoric campaign of Clark in the Northwest: these constitute the indissoluble trinity of historic causa- tion in the winning of the West and the conquest of the Northwest — three in one and one in three. 16 p - - - f ^ " : ! ¥ i ! Mr 1 ■ I i. ^jy™'"- 1 ™ 3 .':.:'■•■ 3 0112 050753539 .!■;■:!■!:.